holiday

Life is happening

Sunny, summer days are here in London town

Sunny, summer days are here in London town

Well, it certainly has been one of the longest stretches of time in between posts on here in a while. That’s no good. But I want to say it’s mostly for positive reasons. Yes, mostly, I haven’t been home. Or I’ve been moving to a new home. Or I’ve been traveling (almost too much) or had a fully booked in weekend doing sport, going to events, sitting at the pub and generally burning my body cause I forgot sun block again. I assure you I have been writing a lot with a pen and paper even though this space has gone quiet. It has really helped me work through some things and at the least progress my thoughts in a positive direction. So I hope to continue that this summer. But here I am on a Friday night because “I’m focusing on my career right now.” Me and Pic got the house to ourselves and Glastonbury is on BBC. I’ve actually got nothing better to do than write a blog, cook dinner and boogie and I couldn’t be more pleased.

See. I've been writing.

See. I’ve been writing.

I was in Paris for a few days for Roland Garros. I felt so lucky to be taking another tennis grand slam off my list of things to do in life. Quite a lot of people don’t even get a chance to do one thing on their bucket list and I keep getting able to do all I set out to achieve. Not sure why, but I’ll take it. DSC07498So any ways, before the Open started I was really really really hoping that I would just get a chance to see Rafa play. It was a 50/50 chance without the weather being shit.  But man, I lucked out on weather and would you believe, I also got to see Rafael Nadal play at the French. It was so awesome. He was so so good and totally crushed his opponent. It was over in just an hour and a half. That was legendary, but the evening match with Gael Monfils was more memorable. Monfils, the hometown guy, really had the crowd going. I loved the atmosphere and I nearly started yelling “ALLEZ GAEL” myself. I like Monfils a lot anyways and he was playing brilliantly. I didn’t do too much else in Paris besides be annoyed by the hostel being completely filled with Americans fresh off the boat. They were nice, but they also did my head in. They were mostly 20-23 year olds on their first trip to Europe. It’s been a long while since I stayed in a hostel in a European capital that I kind of forgot that whole scene. The lessons learned on that was 1. If I go back to Paris, stay at a B&B and avoid people. 2. Don’t go back to Paris: go to small cities in Europe from now on. These are important for the future sanity of myself.

I think I did some other stuff between then but I’ve just returned from Scotland on Monday morning. It was 10 days of much needed fun and mostly doing nothing at all. Fyne Fest was awesome as per usual with great beers and great food and music.

Fyne Fest

Fyne Fest

The weather and the midges held out for the weekend. Luckily for me they held out for the next week as well while I camped. I didn’t need midge spray but once for about 3 minutes. I am beginning to think these midges don’t actually exist. And imagine if British people had to cope with mosquitoes. Like those full on mosquitoes you get when you’re up in the hills or forest land. The British would wither and die. The sooner they realize their bugs, birds, animals are all tiny compared to other countries the quicker they can stop their complaining. Actually they’d probably complain about how small stuff was and they’d want things to be regular size like the rest of the world.

I feel like I've been sleeping mostly in a sleeping bag the last two months, which is partially true.

I feel like I’ve been sleeping mostly in a sleeping bag the last two months, which is partially true.

My time in Inveraray and Islay was awesome. The best bit were campfires on the beach with a bottle of whisky. Next year I am hoping I can bring some friends along to the beach to share in the experience. I was happy to do it alone this year just to scope it and not have to commit to doing anything else, but I’d like to do a bit more next Scottish holiday. Any one up for it?

River in the Highlands.

River in the Highlands.

Beach life.

Beach life.

So I’ve gotten back from Scotland feeling pretty refreshed, but now a week of really stressful work has happened and I’m right back to where I was pre-holiday frazzled and banging my head against the desk. Ah such is life. I have no other travel plans the rest of the summer and I’m happy about that. It will be nice to stick around London for a change and enjoy times with my friends until school starts back up in August. Then once again I’ll be hiding in my room doing homework for 4 months. Can’t wait.

It’s getting late now. Nearly 10 (!!) and I am about to fall asleep typing this up. Piccadilly is circling, wanting me to get to bed too.I have not been sleeping well for weeks and I am looking forward to not having an alarm tomorrow morning. I’m pretty sure this tiredness stems from my complete lack of exercise for the last month since the Rat Race 20 mile assault course we did. Oh and there’s been the drinking. By the way, the race was good. We finished in mostly one piece. All this laziness changes tomorrow morning cause I’m going for a long run after breakfast. Time to get the creaky cogs of this body spinning again.

I hope you all have a fantastic weekend. Stay out of trouble and take care. Cheers.

Heaven: water, sun, sand, fire, writing implementation, paper, and some alcohol.

Heaven: water, sun, sand, fire, writing implementation, paper, and some alcohol.

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A photo trip to Scotland

Folks, I have been soaking up the sun which has shining ever so brightly over this island the last few weeks. It is because of this I have neglected posting photos from the rest of my trip to Scotland. After leaving FyneFest, I stayed in a town just about 10 mile south on Loch Fyne called Inveraray. It’s such a relaxing place to me. I spent 2 days walking around there. And I also managed to complete the most complex public transport feat ever to be attempted by myself.  It involved a bus, a ferry and another bus. And it cost me more than half the price of my train travel to/from London. It took 3 hours travel both ways. All to spend 2 hours in Tobermory on the Isle of Mull. But it was worth it. The sun was out and it was so lovely to be out on a ferry.

 

The Isle of Jura is still missing from the new google maps.

The Isle of Jura is still missing from the new google maps. C’mon google.

So that was neat. I’m going to overload your brain and subject you to a 13 photo strong post. With some comments. But not much. You don’t really care about the captions anyways, do you?

Inside my favorite Scottish pub, at The George Hotel, Inverarary.

Inside my favorite Scottish pub, at The George Hotel, Inverarary.

Inveraray as seen from the dock.

Inveraray as seen from the dock.

Dun na Caiche, it's above Inveraray

Dun na Caiche, it’s above Inveraray

Loch Fyne and Dun na Cuaiche at the top of that hill.

Loch Fyne and Dun na Cuaiche at the top of that hill.

 

Inveraray Castle and Gardens

Inveraray Castle and Gardens

Inveraray Castle and a Sequoia

Inveraray Castle and a Sequoia

 

I'm on a boat motha_______!

I’m on a boat motha_______!

Lighthouse on the way to the Isle of Mull

Lighthouse on the way to the Isle of Mull

 

Tobermory on Isle of Mull. Picturesque!

Tobermory on Isle of Mull. Picturesque!

Tobermory Distillary

Tobermory Distillary

Thrift on the shores of Mull.

Thrift on the shores of Mull.

 

Beautiful scenery of Scotland. Who doesn't love a clear cut?

Beautiful scenery of Scotland. Who doesn’t love a clear cut?

Giddy, waiting for my bus to Glasgow. Trip's over folks!

Giddy, waiting for my bus to Glasgow. Trip’s over folks!

 

It was a great time in Scotland. I wish it were there longer. I hope next trip it will be with some cool person. Any one who wants to be that cool person, inquire below.

 

Categories: Beer, holiday, travel, Walking | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

FyneFest 2013

There is no beer fest I looked forward more to in my 31 years than FyneFest 2013. It was my first time going and I’m pretty certain won’t be my last. Fyne Fest takes place in Argyll up in Western Scotland. Here’s a helpful map to help you get your head around where I went:

View Larger Map

From London I took the Caledonian Sleeper from Euston to Glasgow. It was lucky for me to have made it as I decided to go out for a few pints with my co-workers after working an extra long day. I had to rush back home to grab my things, shower and get back into the city, just making the last train into the city for the night. Well planned by me. But I did make it and I was lucky to get a sleeper berth to myself. Booya.

Cozy sleeper berth

Cozy sleeper berth

The sleeper train is well worth taking. I slept like shit, but it was the best way to go really. The bed is warm and comfortable. If you can book in with someone you know, even better. And book early as it can be very cheap! One of my tickets was £19.

I got into Glasgow around 7 and caught the 926 bus to Cairndow. I called the brewery when I got there and someone nicely came to pick me up! It was only 2 miles to Fyne Fest, but I had no idea on how far it was. It was so nice of Fyne Ales to arrange transport for campers, especially single and mostly lost ladies like myself.

I got there around 11 and the festival didn’t officially open until 4. So I set up my tent, went to the brewery tap which had been remodeled since my first visit. It’s really nice and welcoming. My first pint was Jarl, which is one of my favorite Fyne Ales. After a short nap, the festival officially opened.

Welcome to Heaven/FyneFest

Welcome to Heaven/FyneFest

I had my first festival pint which was Oakham Citra, which I think I’ve had before but couldn’t remember much about. It was good and I paired it with salmon kedgeree. The kedgeree was my favorite dish of the weekend and I should have had it again, but I was too busy trying all the rest of the food.

Delicious kedgeree

Delicious kedgeree

With a full stomach I started ticking off the beers on the list. I got 20 beer tokens (1 token = 1/2 pint) and figured that would just about last me into Saturday evening. 10 pints is a lot, but with so many delicious beers I knew I would be drinking plenty. The night ticked on and I made a few friends and started chatting about this and that beer, the glorious city of London (which Scottish people don’t seem to see that glory), and basically everything else under the sun. Before I knew it it was night and it was absolutely bucketing down with rain and very windy. I was struggling to stay awake after a long week so I retired early to my bed. I am happy to report that my tent was indeed waterproof and thank god for that!

Ye little tent

Ye little tent

As you can see I have a pole sticking up in my tent awkwardly. That’s because the pole in my never-used-before-tent broke when I was trying to set it up. I was very pleased about this. I even got a guy to tape it back together but it snapped again. Luckily it was just for the rain fly, so I was ok. It was super awkward to keep putting the pole up when I got in and out but not the end of the world.

So Saturday was the main day of awesome. I got to the beer tent when it opened up at 11 AM. My first beer was Fyne Ales Bell Rock n’ Hop which started me down a long and treacherous path of IPAs and high percentage alcohol for the day. I was planning to walk that day to the Walkers Bar up the glen. I struck up a conversation with a nice guy in the beer tent who was also heading that way so we decided to walk together. I packed a Superiour IPA (7.1%) in my flask for the 3 mile walk like any sensible person would do. The rain was intermittent on the walk but overall really pleasant.

Local we met on the way to the Walker's Bar

Local we met on the way to the Walker’s Bar

Path up the glen

Path up the glen

Walker's Bar across the river

Walker’s Bar from across the river

In the hut

In the hut

 

This was the best part of the festival for me. The walk was a welcome reprieve from the beer fest. The glen was beautiful. Inside the fishing hut was 4 kegs of Fyne Ale and some lovely burgers. We got to chatting with Jamie from Fyne Ales and one of the brewers from de Molen for a while as we sank a couple pints. I had a Raad & Daad from de Molen the night before which was the most vinegary beer ever to pass my lips. Yikes. But after speaking with the brewer from de Molen we gave the Amarillo a try on his suggestion back at the beer tent, which completely redeemed them. It was one of my favorites of the fest.

Once back at the brewery we went on a brewery tour where I was surprised at how small the brewing set up was at Fyne Ales. From what I remember from my alcoholic haze they have a 7 or 9 barrel system. The amount they produce from this is amazing. They must have been brewing like mad before Fyne Fest to produce all the beers they had on at the festival. They did have quite a lot of fermenters to be fair.

Kettle

 Brew kettle

We headed back to the beer tent from there and got onto that Amarillo I spoke of earlier. Then I went for the Lemoncello IPA (9%) from Siren Craft Brew. It was some bit after that when things began slipping away from me. Luckily my little internal sober conscious took over, dragged me out of the beer tent, made me eat loads of food and boshed a 1.5l water in like 10 minutes. I sat down for a while to gather myself and suddenly I was back! Back ready to dance! I drank a bit more but mostly I was focused on dancing. This went on until midnight when I excused myself from the dance floor and went back to my tent.

I woke up Sunday  at 7 a bit worse for wear. Walking back to my tent from the loo I thought I may toss my cookies. Drinking a bit more water and heading back to bed seemed to help me quite a bit. Finally I got up at 10 and made a double cup of tea. This tea certainly saved my life. Thanks to my co-worker for lending me his little stove.

The most important cup of tea in my life.

The most important cup of tea in my life.

I did lay around a little bit more as I wasn’t scheduled to leave until 3. And in my drunken stumblings the night before I pre-ordered some seafood paella for Sunday. Well done drunk Colleen.

Paella getting served up by Loch Fyne Oysters

Paella getting served up by Loch Fyne Oysters

I can’t say enough about the food I ate all weekend. It was just as good as the beer. All of it was by local guys with local ingredients. I really enjoyed everything I had.

After getting my paella I got a beer and ate. It took a lot of courage to get a lot of beer. I will admit that I tried to go up at 11:30 to get a beer and had to step away and go for a walk. I just couldn’t face it just yet. But I did get two more beers the last being the Sublime Stout. It was pretty sublime and I would have enjoyed it more on a different day.

Putting on a brave face.

Putting on a brave face.

Not long after, I took down my tent and headed out for Inveraray for the rest of my Scottish adventure.

Really, it was such a phenomenal festival. The brewery really looked after everyone there so well. I have very little to criticize about the festival. Everyone was in a great mood. Lots of happy kids running around. Well, a lot of happy adults running around as well. Next year it would be great to bring some friends along, but if I go alone again I know I’ll have a great time too!

A pretty good place to be in the world.

A pretty good place to be in the world.

I’ll write up a bit about the rest of my trip later and share some photos.  Until then enjoy the rest of the weekend! Peace.

Categories: Beer, holiday, travel, Uncategorized, Walking | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

I need a hols

I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to being in this general area in 92 days……

Inveraray

No vacation since September makes Colleen a dull, irritable girl. I’m going to the Loch Fyne area of Scotland in June for a bit of a break from the hustle and bustle of London town. Should be lovely. Will take loads of photos as well. I’ve already been here (as you can see), but it’ll be solo this time. It’ll be quiet, reflective and probably a bit tipsy as I’ll be able to go back to one of the best pubs I’ve been to in my life. Hurrah! Whisky, yes!

Until then, I’ll be posing as a tourist at various phone booths around London. Sometimes with boys.

Phoney phone booth pose

Phoney phone booth pose

 

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Merry Christmas

It’s Christmas afternoon here in London.  And I’m hungry.  The kitchen is closed at the hostel right now as the staff prepares a Christmas feast.   I’m surprised at how many people are orphaned in a hostel in London at Christmas.  There are a lot of Chinese people here too, which I will presume to mostly not be celebrating Christmas.  Any ways, the Christmas meal starts at 2.  I hear it’s all you can eat and drink. That’s the best Christmas gift you could ever give someone traveling on their own at Christmas.  It should be fun as everyone at the hostel has been friendly and in fine spirits the last two days.
My favorite part of my time in London has been the girl at the hostel who asked if the water from the tap was potable.  I told her I think it was alright as I was pretty sure there hadn’t been a Cholera outbreak since the end of the 19th century.  She seemed satisfied with that.  She was from Wisconsin.  I will hope that her opinions and views do not reflect that of the entirety of Wisconsin.
Ok that bit about the girl form Wisconsin wasn’t really my favorite bit in the last 48 hours.  There has been some really good times.  Like when I found 5 pounds on the floor at the Royal Oak.  Or going out for drinks with Louise at a sweet new pub I had not yet been to.  Or the midnight bike ride around Knightsbridge/Chelsea/Kensington.   Or my new drinking partners at Churchill who are really excited to meet my mom.  All those were really good.  Today I’m expecting nothing less in the way of fun.  That’s the wonderful thing about coming to London for me.  I never seem to have a bad time.  Everything always works out, I meet new people and have a fantastic time.
Tomorrow my mom gets into London.  Plans include going to Dover, Greenwich and to a couple top notch pubs.  Nothing is definite so we’ll have a lot of time to make plans on the fly.
Ok, I’m off for the day.  I’ll hope to get another update in before I go.  Either way, a very happy Christmas and happy new year to everyone!
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My life at the precipice

My problem in life is living outside of London.  For some reason anything I do outside these borders, just doesn’t add up to what I do inside it all.  Tonight was so good hanging out with Tera and Ben at my favorite pub, Royal Oak.   I think Tera really liked it as she was snapping a lot of pictures.  Being at that pub with two of my favorite people in the world….well yeah….I loved it.  Nothing in my life seems to compare to  whate  I feel in London.  And that’s alright.  It’s not a bad thing.  It just fuels my desire to live here ever more.  And maybe I move back and it’s not all it was cracked up to be.  At least I lived out the dream I’ ve had.  That’s it.   We all need to be living out our dreams.  If we aren’t, what’s the point of it all?  Why settle for less?  That’s what it is for me.  Why settle for something you aren’t happy with in life?  I wouldn’t want to do anything else.  My tattoo doesn’t just represent my committment to live in the LDN.  It’s a committment to f0llow through with my dreams and goals.  And in the next year and a half I’ll be making true a goal I’ve had for the last 10+ years.  Pretty sweet.  I wonder at this point what is next?  What will I want to do next and where will I want to live?

I just want love and I’m going to do my best to keep on loving and getting love.  Peace everyone.  🙂

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Still awake?

Somehow I’m still functioning at 10:15 BST.  It’s been a long 36 hours!  So surprise (to a lot of you)!  I’m in London town for a few days.  Tera and I got in this afternoon after a wonderful journey from LAX (I hate that place).  Ben met us at the airport.  We promptly boarded the tube and went to a pub for pints and food at Green Park tube stop area.  Good stuff.  Gorillaz played when we got to our second pub.  It put me in the mood to see Gorillaz tomorrow night at the Roundhouse. Also spotted a Maybach on the street.  All in a days work in London town really.

I was supposed to meet up for some pub quiz tonight at Mucky Pup, but ended up getting way behind schedule then lost in North London.  Again, I thought I knew where I was headed but instead went the totally wrong direction.  I wasn’t fussed though as the trees and shrubs are in full spring bloom here and it was 70 degrees out.  I could feel the humidity too, which I’m not used to.

I just got back to my hostel, Palmers Lodge by Swiss Cottage station.  I probably put in a good 4 or 5 miles this evening including a nice stroll through Regents Park.  I might go hang out in Regents Park again tomorrow as I haven’t ever spent much time there.  It’s beautiful!  Maybe some Hampstead Heath too before I go meet up with Kenzo and Bam at the flat they are staying.  We’ll see what I feel like and what time I rise.   Zombie mode is close at hand for me now that I’ve stopped moving and going full speed.  I hope I fully recover for tomorrow.

I will let you all know how the concert is tomorrow.  I’m expecting nothing short of perfection.  Cheers everyone from London!  I’ll drink a brew for you all.  🙂

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